In a Simple Way…. A Child is Born
By Vicki Chan
Women are good at giving birth.
I have to say that again… WOMEN ARE GOOD AT GIVING BIRTH!
Hang on while I go outside where I can see Mount Beerwah, mother of the Glasshouse Mountains (she’ll spread the word!) and sing it out loud…
“WOMEN ARE GOOD AT GIVING BIRTH!”
Ok… That feels better.
It is a strange world we live in where to birth normally is now the unusual thing to do… where to seek a ‘natural’ birth, to engage a midwife, to birth at home or in a birth centre is seen as radical, extreme, and even dangerous.
Research will debunk the ‘dangerous’ tag (see the links below)… and communication and information will generally dissolve the ‘extreme’ label, but the ‘radical’? Well, apart from the usual negative connotations of the word, “radical” also means ‘original’, ‘fundamental’, ‘essential’, ‘innate’, and ‘from the root or source’. Sounds good to me. Modern slang gives us “radical” as meaning ‘Great!’ ‘Wonderful!’ and ‘Excellent!’ I can’t argue with that! And if one has to be ‘revolutionary’, ‘uncompromising’, and ‘intransigent’ to turn the world around and bring birth back to a place of ordinariness, sacredness, and respect, then as a midwife and as a mother, I’ll take that label too.
The way we bring our babies into the world has profound and lifelong effects on the rest of our lives and those of our children. It affects our relationships, our self concept, our health, our very being. Let us do it as best we can.
I attended a birth at a private hospital recently. The woman birthed beautifully without assistance from man, medicine, or machine. Her husband, in awe of the power and beauty of his child’s passage to the world watched quietly as the woman enfolded the new life in her arms. The babe began to suck at her mother’s breast. Her father’s eyes opened wider and he whispered to me, “I’m just thinking about her little body, and all that goes on inside of it to bring her to the point of breathing, and now, breastfeeding. It’s amazing… So complex, so intricate, and yet, so simple. It all just happened. You wouldn’t want to mess with that, would you?”
No, I would not want to mess with that. Not without a very good reason.
Today, the vast majority of births are “messed with” leaving very few babies entering the world unsullied by drugs or instruments. We are told that modern women are no longer able or willing to endure the rigours of ‘natural childbirth’, apparently confirming with outrageously high intervention rates, the obstetric dictum that “Nature is a lousy midwife”.
My experience over the past twenty years as a midwife has shown me anything but…when women are fully valued in their capacity as nurturing, creative, powerful beings; their ability to grow, birth and mother their children is nothing short of miraculous.
Our culture is good at instilling fear, and sadly, in providing an environment, both social and physical, that works against the body, the heart, and the spirit of the mother…making birth, and parenting, more complicated than it was ever intended to be.
Birth can and should be a peak experience in the life of a woman and her family. The process of birth can be, in its essence, simple, leading the way to a smooth transition to motherhood and indeed, babyhood.
Simplicity comes with accepting the mystery of birth, in appreciating the collective birth-knowledge of the ages, and in recognizing the power of each individual woman’s intuitive birth-wisdom.
Simplicity is found in trusting a woman’s inherent ability to give birth, and trusting in her right, as the one who will live most intimately with the outcome of the birth, to be the one who must take ultimate responsibility for decision-making.
Simplicity comes with honoring her… and, in a simple way, loving her.
Women are good at giving birth and most will do so, given the opportunity, information, and support. I believe, for the safety and well-being of our families, it is of the utmost importance that we again see a ‘natural’ birth as ‘the norm’.
Meanwhile, we must remember that giving birth is not a competition. Success is not measured by place or route of birth. Success is having the opportunity to give one’s best…it is a woman and her partner being supported by a caregiver of their choice in their childbearing experience.
It is receiving unbiased information, including risks and alternatives. For those requiring more complex care, it is having access to appropriate medical attention.
It is to be respected in the choices that they make. It is birthing their baby with dignity and respect. It is achieving their ultimate goal, that being the safest, most satisfying birth given the circumstances that arise.
It is bringing a child into the world with love, and it is the love that matters most.